Like father, like son -- these players shared their dad's number

June 16th, 2024

Very few fathers and sons have had the opportunity to each play baseball at the highest level. We were reminded of what that looks like when MLB Pipeline’s No. 1 overall prospect, Jackson Holliday, made his Major League debut for the Orioles at Fenway Park back on April 10.

When Holliday, who is currently with Triple-A Norfolk, took the field for the much-anticipated moment, he was wearing No. 7, a number that hadn’t been worn by an Oriole since 1988, when Cal Ripken Sr. and Billy Ripken donned it. But No. 7 was special to the 20-year-old Holliday for another reason, as well -- it was one of the numbers his father, Matt, wore during a 15-year MLB career.

Holliday is the latest son of a former big leaguer to wear his father’s number in the Majors. Here’s a look at the Hollidays and other prominent father-son duos who shared the same uniform number:

Matt and Jackson Holliday -- No. 7
Matt Holliday was a seven-time All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger Award winner who played for the Rockies, A’s, Cardinals and Yankees from 2004-18. He won the National League batting title by hitting .340 in 2007, a year in which he also led the league in hits (216), doubles (50), RBIs (137) and total bases (386). He appeared in eight postseasons, winning the ’07 NL Championship Series MVP Award and belting 13 career postseason home runs.

Matt was on hand to witness his son Jackson’s MLB debut, a moment when the pair joined a pretty exclusive club of fathers and sons in the Majors. Despite going only 2-for-34 before being optioned to Triple-A, Jackson is one of the finest-hitting prospects in recent memory, ascending through the Orioles’ farm system quickly -- he went from being drafted first overall in 2022, to the big leagues less than two years later. Holliday needed just 155 games to make the jump, posting a .933 OPS in the Minors before his callup.

Somehow, he never wore the No. 7 during his short stint in the Minors. Not that it was for lack of trying.

“I mean, I tried to wear 7,” he said. “But I just wear whatever number I'm given. Really cool to be able to do that."

The same number for three generations
Ray, Bob and Aaron Boone -- No. 8

For the Boones, one of baseball’s dynastic clans, No. 8 was passed not only from father to son, but on to a grandson. Ray Boone was the patriarch, playing in the Majors from 1948-60. The infielder was a two-time All-Star, spending the majority of his career with Cleveland and the Tigers. His son, Bob, was a four-time All-Star catcher who won seven Gold Glove Awards from 1972-90, spending 17 of his 19 seasons with either the Phillies or the Angels.

Bob’s two sons, Aaron and Bret, each reached the Majors as well. Bret, who was a three-time All-Star and a four-time Gold Glove Award winner at second base, didn’t wear No. 8, but Aaron wore it toward the end of his playing career with the Marlins, Nationals and Astros.

Keeping that legacy going
Charlie and Ke’Bryan Hayes -- No. 13

Charlie was a solid corner infielder during a 14-year MLB career from 1988-2001. He was a career .262/.316/.398 hitter with 144 home runs, and he’s remembered most for catching a foul popup off the bat of the Braves’ Mark Lemke to clinch a World Series title for the Yankees in 1996.

Ke’Bryan has emerged as an elite defensive third baseman with the Pirates, and he wears the No. 13, which is the number his dad wore for much of his career. In 2023, he won his first Gold Glove Award at the hot corner and delivered the best offensive performance of his young career.

In the Hayes’ case, it was someone else who decided to give the son the same number as his father.

“I think Bonesy [clubhouse manager Scott Bonnett], because he knew my dad, he gave me 13." Ke'Bryan said. "It’s cool to be able to wear your father’s number to kind of keep that legacy going.”

A tribute to greatness
Tony Gwynn and Tony Gwynn Jr. -- No. 19

Tony Gwynn was a master craftsman at the plate, one of the greatest pure hitters in baseball history. The late Hall of Famer won eight batting titles, seven Silver Slugger Awards, five Gold Glove Awards in right field and was selected as an All-Star 15 times. He spent his entire career wearing No. 19 for his hometown Padres.

Tony’s son, Tony Jr., played in the big leagues from 2006-14, and he was able to don No. 19 in honor of his father in ’16 with the Phillies. He also played for San Diego from 2009-10, and though he could have asked his father for his blessing to wear the retired number, he didn't feel it would be right.

"My dad was willing to let me wear that number," Tony Jr. said. "But I declined. It was respect, really. I got to witness a lot of what he did in his career. I have a tremendous amount of respect for work you put in. At the time, I just felt like it shouldn't be unretired, even for me.

"By the time I was in Philadelphia, my dad was sick. So I wore 19 as a tribute to him. It wasn't my idea to begin with because I had signed as a free agent, and I wasn't coming in there picking my number. But the clubhouse manager at the time, Frank, felt like I should have it. So I wasn't gonna decline it at that point."

Roger and Kody Clemens -- No. 21
Roger Clemens is one of the most decorated pitchers in MLB history, winning a record seven Cy Young Awards along with seven ERA titles, 11 All-Star selections and the 1986 AL MVP Award, just to name a few of his accolades.

Roger’s son, Kody, made his MLB debut with the Tigers in 2022, and recorded his first Major League strikeout against none other than Shohei Ohtani. Kody is currently in the Phillies’ Minor League system.

'It's something I want to carry on'
Fernando Tatis and Fernando Tatis Jr. -- No. 23

Fernando Tatis was 23 years old when he changed his uniform number to 23 while with the Cardinals in 1998. And on the 23rd of April the following season, he made history when he smashed not one, but two grand slams in the same inning off the Dodgers’ Chan Ho Park in Los Angeles. Tatis remains the only player in AL/NL history to hit two grand slams in one inning.

It was only fitting that two decades later, Fernando Tatis Jr. chose the No. 23 when he began his Major League career. In his fifth MLB season, he owns a career OPS just under .900 and has belted over 100 home runs. He’s also been tremendous defensively, particularly at his new position of right field, where he won a Gold Glove Award after moving there from shortstop last year.

"Just going to the games with Dad and seeing my dad play up close," Tatis said about wearing his father's number. "I'm fortunate to be in the game and my dad opened that door, so I'm definitely grateful to him and it's something I want to carry on."

As for whether we'll ever see another player belt two grand slams in the same inning, let alone off the same pitcher in the same inning, Tatis won't close that door, either.

"It definitely could happen again because it happened once," he said before saying with a laugh: "But what are the odds?"

Bobby and Barry Bonds -- No. 25
The Giants had a tremendous power-speed threat reach the Majors in the late 1960s, and little did anyone know it at the time, but his son would far exceed his own impressive accomplishments on the field. Bobby Bonds was a 30-homer/30-steal player five times and finished his 14-year MLB career with 332 homers and 461 steals. He was also a great defensive outfielder, winning three Gold Glove Awards.

Bobby’s son, Barry, began his MLB career with the Pirates, for whom he wore No. 24 in honor of his godfather, the legendary Willie Mays. But when he signed with the Giants following the 1992 season, Barry took his father’s old number, 25.

Already a two-time NL MVP and a three-time Gold Glove Award winner in left field, Bonds elevated his performance to another level with San Francisco. He would go on to win five more MVP honors and five more Gold Glove Awards, as well as set the all-time single-season (73) and career (762) home run records. He also stole 514 bases and owns the all-time walks record, with 2,558.

'A lot of meaning to it'
Gus, Buddy and David Bell -- No. 25

Along with the Boones, the Bells have shared a uniform number through three generations. It all began with Gus, a four-time All-Star outfielder who played for the Pirates, Reds, Mets and Milwaukee Braves from 1953-64. He spent nine of his 15 Major League seasons with Cincinnati.

Buddy was a five-time All-Star and a six-time Gold Glove Award winner at third base. He spent most of his 18-year big league career with Cleveland, the Rangers and the Reds. One of his sons, David, continued the family tradition and reached the Majors with Cleveland in 1995. Primarily a second and third baseman, David went on to play for the Cardinals, Mariners, Giants, Phillies and Brewers.

David never played for the Reds like his father and grandfather did, but he completed the generational trifecta when he took No. 25 as Cincinnati’s manager in 2019.

“I think if there’s one thing as a player that I am proud of and that meant a lot to me, it’s my family history,” Bell said. “I know the Holliday family really well. I would imagine there’s a lot of meaning to wearing the same number because of how close they are. I think if we weren’t a close family, maybe it wouldn’t have been as important, but it was.

“I’d take No. 25 any time I could get it. The problem was there were a lot of good players that wore that number on the teams I played with. Barry Bonds and Jim Thome come to mind. But there were times I was able to get it and it meant a lot.”

Bringing it back
Vladimir Guerrero and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. -- No. 27

In this case, the father is a Hall of Famer and the son might just follow in his footsteps to Cooperstown someday. Vladimir Guerrero was one of the most feared sluggers of his day, launching 449 home runs and posting a .931 OPS over a 16-year MLB career spent mostly with the Expos and Angels. He was also a nine-time All-Star, an eight-time Silver Slugger Award winner and the 2004 AL MVP.

His son, Vlad Jr., picked up where his dad left off. In 2021, he led baseball with 48 home runs and 123 runs scored, also leading the AL with a 1.002 OPS to finish runner-up to Shohei Ohtani in MVP voting. Vlad Jr. remains one of the best right-handed power hitters in the game, and he shares more than a name and the No. 27 with his father -- when he won the ’23 Home Run Derby, he and his father became the only father and son to each win a derby (Vlad Sr. won it ’07).

Vlad Jr. wore his dad’s No. 27 Expos jersey to his first Major League game with the Blue Jays in 2018.

“It was to honor my dad,” he said at the time. “Since I was a kid, I was running around following my dad in the clubhouse in Montreal. I wanted to bring that back today."

"It made me feel so happy to see that,” said Vlad Sr. via an interpreter. “The fact that I played in Montreal, and now seeing my boy wearing that jersey, and now putting the Blue Jays jersey on in Toronto, makes me so happy."

30 for 30
Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey Jr. -- No. 30

Although he became a superstar in Seattle, where he wore No. 24 and became the face of baseball with his inimitably sweet swing and jaw-dropping defense in center field, Ken Griffey Jr. joined the Reds in 2000 to be closer to family. When he arrived in Cincinnati, the city in which he grew up as his father helped the Big Red Machine Reds win back-to-back World Series titles in 1975 and ’76, he donned his dad’s old number.

While his tenure in the Queen City wasn’t as spectacular as his time with the Mariners, Junior hit his 500th and 600th homers in a Reds uniform -- the former came on Father’s Day with Ken Griffey Sr. in attendance at Busch Stadium. Along with Bobby and Barry Bonds, the Griffeys are considered baseball royalty as one of the greatest father-son pairs to play in the Majors.

Mel and Todd Stottlemyre -- No. 30
Mel Stottlemyre was a five-time All-Star right-hander who pitched for the Yankees from 1964-74. He led the AL in complete games twice (18 in 1965 and 24 in ’69) and finished with a career 2.97 ERA and 152 complete games. He made three starts as a rookie in the ’64 World Series, including a complete-game victory over the Cardinals in Game 2.

Todd posted a 4.28 ERA over 14 Major League seasons from 1988-2002, pitching for the Blue Jays, A’s, Cardinals, Rangers and D-backs. The right-hander won a pair of World Series rings while with Toronto in 1992 and ’93.

Clay and Cody Bellinger -- No. 35
Though he wears No. 24 with the Cubs, Cody Bellinger wore No. 35 with the Dodgers from 2017-22 -- his father’s number while Clay was in the Majors with the Yankees and Angels from 1999-2002.

Cody enjoyed success as soon as he reached the big leagues in 2017, smashing 37 homers en route to being named the NL Rookie of the Year. Two years later, he had one of the greatest individual hitting seasons in Dodgers history, belting 47 homers with a 1.035 OPS. He struggled to a .648 OPS over his next three seasons, but he had a rebound campaign last season with the Cubs, winning the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award. reporters Keegan Matheson, Mark Sheldon, Alex Stumpf and Jake Rill contributed to this story.